A determined aunt who channelled the devastation of losing her niece into setting up a brain tumour charity has been awarded an MBE.
Stanmore parents Julie and Gary Phelan were left shattered after they lost daughter Alison to an incurable brain tumour, just three weeks before her eighth birthday.
The grieving couple, from Hermitage Way, felt the lack of awareness about tumours played a part in losing their daughter.
Together with Ali's other family members and friends, they established the charity Ali's Dream in 2001 to raise funds for childhood brain tumour research.
Fifteen and a half years later they are proud that as a charity relying on volunteers, they have raised a little under a million pounds.
The family is now celebrating the news that Julie’s sister, Sue Farrington Smith, who co-founded the charity, has been appointed an MBE for services to brain tumour research.
The 59-year-old said: "I cried when I heard the news. It is such a great honour.
"It made me realise the enormity of what has been achieved in the last 15 years, since we lost my sister’s little girl.
"Like so many others in the brain tumour community, my passion for this cause is driven by loss. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about Ali.
"I feel blessed that so many patients, families and supporters choose to fundraise and campaign alongside us.
"They keep me motivated and we couldn’t have achieved what we have without them."
About her sister's incredible strength, Julie said: "When Ali was diagnosed with a brain tumour on the 15th August 2000, our whole world came crashing down, it was followed by ten months of hell on earth.
"Our whole family united in grief with a determination to do something, establishing the charity Ali’s Dream to raise vital funds for research into childhood brain tumours so that a cure can be found sooner rather than later."
She added: "We are delighted to hear that Aunty Suey (as Ali called her) is to receive an MBE – it is a wonderful tribute to Ali."
Sue from Buckinghamshire campaigned to raise awareness and funds and led the coming together of multiple brain tumour charities to push the government for more research.
With the support of her local MP John Bercow, the government established the All Party Parliamentary Group on brain tumours in July 2005.
In April 2009 Ali’s Dream and other founding brain tumour charities also launched Brain Tumour Research, a national charity.
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